2019 Mercedes CLS Review
  • Car Review

2019 Mercedes CLS Review

By Autolist Editorial | December 3, 2019

Pros:

  • Sleek, beautiful profile.
  • Posh, comfortable interior with leather seats and lots of amenities.
  • Fine handling and acceleration.

Cons:

  • Limited headroom in the back and poor rear visibility due to the sloping roofline.
  • Inferior cargo space.
  • Outdated infotainment system.

Summary

A coupe-like luxury sedan, the 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class boasts sleeker lines than earlier models, while the automaker has upped the stakes in terms of available technology and performance with an innovative new mild hybrid engine. The CLS-Class was redesigned for 2018, representing the third generation of the vehicle.

This vehicle comes in the CLS 450, CLS 450 4Matic and AMG CLS 53 trim levels, and ranges in price from just over $70,000 to nearly $100,000, depending on the trim and options. The 2019 CLS competes against the Audi A7, Porsche Panamera, as well as more traditional four-door luxury sedans such as the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class on which it's based.

Exterior

TLDR: Praised as a sleek, beautiful upgrade, the 2019 CLS has simple lines to offset its bold fascia.

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Boasting the dramatic, swooping roofline typical of past iterations, the redesigned 2019 CLS features a long hood, raked roof, shark-nose fascia, short overhangs and sleek, flowing lines. Reviewers singled out this vehicle's looks as one of its principal virtues, noting that this luxury car has fewer lines or flourishes than earlier models. The CLS 450 models also have an angled rear, three air intakes, sharp two-part LED headlights with a stardust effect, a trunk-integrated spoiler and a prominent lower splitter. It also has 19-inch alloy wheels.

The base model 2019 CLS is roughly 2 inches longer and 0.3 inches wider than last year's car, and yet is 1.5 inches lower. Depending on the trim, the 2019 CLS is 55.3 to 56 inches tall, 74.4 inches wide and 196.4 to 196.9 inches long, and it has a wheelbase of 115.7 inches, 2.4 greater than the outgoing model. All models get an AMG styling package typical of high-performance Mercedes cars, which includes a diamond mesh on the grille. The CLS-Class shares many of its parts with the E-Class and S-Class models.

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Interior Quality and Comfort

TLDR: High-quality materials and elegant accents make the interior a picture of luxury, while the range of comfort settings ensures constant relaxation.

The interior of this third-generation Mercedes-Benz CLS has sumptuous leather upholstery, with optional Nappa leather at higher trim levels. Piano Black, open-pore wood detailing and brushed aluminum accents round out the interior styling. The optional Comfort Package adds a heated steering wheel and heated armrests along with heated and cooled front seats.

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The CLS-Class boasts a curved MB-Tex dashboard similar to the S-Class, which wraps around the driver and front passenger. One flaw with the interior is that the roofline hurts rear visibility and limits back-seat headroom.

The ambient interior lighting cycles through 64 colors and lights in the air vents turn red when you dial up the temperature to warm and blue when you dial it to cool. Three-zone climate control keeps the interior comfortable, and the multi-contour front seats have a massage function for extra pleasure. Also, a 12.3-inch screen occupies the dashboard at every trim level, and both a controller on the center console and button-heavy touchpads on the steering wheel connected to the screen.

Reviewers agree that the interior is posh and beautiful, but some regret that the rear seat space has diminished from earlier models. This coupe-like sedan comes with an optional Energizing Comfort system that calibrates the vehicle's audio system, seats, lighting and climate control to the driver's pre-programmed specifications. This comfort system includes six pre-programmed settings for convenience, along with an Air Balance fragrance and air purification feature for maximum relaxation. Finally, two sets of LATCH anchors making installing car seats easy.

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Utility and Practicality

TLDR: This model has less room for storage than earlier ones.

This new CLS has 11.9 cubic feet of cargo space, just enough for nine grocery bags or a few items of luggage.

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Although this vehicle has more cargo space than earlier models, sedans of this size tend to have 13 to 15 cubic feet of space. The trunk lid can be equipped with an optional hands-free power assist for added convenience.

Technology and Infotainment

TLDR: Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are just two of the infotainment features on offer, and optional amenities such as premium sound systems and satellite radio abound.

The 12.3-inch center screen on the dashboard of this Mercedes provides navigation, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto access. Unfortunately, Mercedes' new MBUX infotainment system is not available as it is on smaller sedans like the A-Class and C-Class. Instead, this vehicle features the older COMAND system, with confusing outputs when you try to change the vehicle's settings or use the navigation system. Some reviewers dislike the system's glossy touchpad, which sits awkwardly over the control knob. However, the system responds to voice commands for convenience.

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A second 12.3-inch screen is available, replacing the analog gauges of the base model and sharing a glass panel with the first screen. With both screens in place, you can set your vehicle's cockpit to a personalized Sport, Progressive or Classic configuration.

A wireless phone charging port is also available, as are two premium sound systems: the 13-speaker Burmester surround sound or 25-speaker Burmester High-End 3D surround sound systems. The CLS comes standard with two USB data ports. You can also purchase in-car Wi-Fi, a head-up display and SiriusXM satellite radio. Back-seat passengers also get access a 120-volt household-style plug, 12-volt outlet and USB charging port.

Safety and Driving Assistance

TLDR: Although it doesn't have crash test ratings from IIHS or NHTSA, the 2019 CLS has enough driver assistance and safety features for semi-autonomous driving.

The 2019 Mercedes CLS has a wide range of safety features, such as adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning and blind-spot monitoring. The Active Lane Change Assist helps you steer into another lane when the road is clear, while Active Speed Limit Assist alerts you if you start going far above the speed designated for a given road.

Active Distance Assist keeps your Mercedes a safe distance from the cars ahead and behind you, and Active Steering Assist holds your vehicle in the center of your lane. Also, Active Emergency Stop Assist brings your vehicle to a complete stop if it detects that you're not controlling it. This feature can even make emergency calls and unlock the doors so emergency response teams can get into the vehicle easily.

Additional safety features include Evasive Steering Assist, rear cross-traffic alert, driver drowsiness monitoring, automatic high beams, active speed assist and traffic sign recognition. The 2019 CLS also boasts Pre-Safe systems to protect occupants from impending collisions. The Pre-Safe Sound feature, for example, emits a sound during crashes to protect against hearing loss. Pre-Safe Plus, Pre-Safe Impulse Side and Pre-Safe 360 are also available.

The Driver Assistance Package and Driver Assistance Plus Package allow for semi-autonomous driving. The Car-to-X communication feature lets your vehicle receive warnings from other Mercedes cars of hazards ahead while driving.

However, neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety nor the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has released results for the 2019 CLS-Class.

Driving Experience

TLDR: The six-cylinder engine may not be remarkable, but it gets the job done. The vehicle's handling is more impressive.

The brand-new turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine that comes on CLS 450 and 450 4Matic models is capable of 362 horsepower and 369 lb.-ft. of torque. It is only available with a nine-speed automatic transmission, but an electric boost system gives it a small surge of power when needed.

The AMG CLS 53 variant gets a more powerful version of this engine, with 429 horsepower and 384 lb.-ft. of torque. All-wheel-drive is also standard with this engine.

Many reviewers praise the 2019 CLS for its seamless, responsive handling and comfortable ride. It can reach 60 mph from a stop in just 4.8 seconds in the CLS 450 4Matic with its all-wheel-drive system, and even rear-wheel-drive can reach 60 mph in a respectable 5.1 seconds. The CLS 53 model, meanwhile, can reach 60 mph in 4.4 seconds. Reviewers describe this vehicle as light and maneuverable, with good composure over mid-corner bumps.

The steering turns in nicely and stays direct while you drive, and the Air Body Control adaptive air suspension keeps the car level when you turn corners. You can adjust this suspension to Comfort, Sport and Sport+ firmness modes. Reviewers note that the previous CLS-Class' available V8 provided more power, however. Boasting quick gear-shifts and sharp throttle responses, this Mercedes-Benz has low-noise performance tires and a sound-deadening design to ensure the cabin is as quiet as possible. Also, the automatic transmission has a manual shifting mode. Braking was also considered by reviewers to be seamless and confidence-inspiring.

The 2019 CLS-Class has a top speed of 130 mph and a curb weight of 4,300 to 4,400 pounds.

Fuel Efficiency

TLDR: Excellent fuel efficiency puts this Mercedes at the front of the pack.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the Mercedes-Benz CLS 450 gets 23 mpg on city streets, 31 mpg on the highway and 26 mpg combined. The 4Matic all-wheel-drive version drops fuel economy by 1 mpg in both city and highway ratings but keeps the same combined figure.

The CLS 53 version, by contrast, received a rating of 21 mpg city, 27 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined.

The all-wheel-drive Audi A7, a rival of the Mercedes CLS, gets 22 mpg and 29 mpg on city roads and highways, respectively, while the 2019 Mercedes-Benz E 300 gets 21 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. Despite having the same torque and horsepower as the 2019 CLS, the larger 2019 Mercedes-Benz S 450 only gets 19 mpg city and 28 mpg highway.

Some of the efficiency gains on the 2019 CLS 450 come down to the EQ Boost 48-volt mild hybrid system. When the vehicle accelerates, the EQ Boost — a starter-generator sitting between the engine and transmission — spins faster than a standard starter motor and starts the engine quicker, saving fuel. The EQ Boost also shoots a jolt of electricity at a moment's notice for extra torque and horsepower.

Trim Levels and Pricing

TLDR: With trim levels in the upper five figures, the 2019 CLS sits squarely in the luxury price range.

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class starts at $70,195 for the CLS 450, including a $995 destination charge. Despite being the standard trim level, it boasts a wealth of amenities including adaptive dampers and a sunroof, as well as 64-color ambient lighting and a navigation system with real-time traffic reporting.

The CLS 450 also comes with an adjustable sport exhaust, LED exterior lighting and a power trunk lid. Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, a center display, and leather upholstery also come standard with this vehicle. All the amenities you can add to the CLS 450, such as the Burmester 3D High-End surround sound system or heated armrests, can bring the cost up to $95,950.

The all-wheel-drive CLS 450 4Matic starts from $72,695 and features the same equipment as the rear-wheel-drive CLS 450, as well as the same options and packages.

The AMG CLS 53 is the premium package trim level, with a higher-performance turbo-six engine capable of 429 horsepower. It starts from $81,000, while options mimic those available on CLS 450 models.

Value

Compared to its rivals, such as the Audi A7 or Porsche Panamera, the 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class is an outstanding deal. In the eyes of many reviewers, the vehicle's posh interior and sleek exterior, combined with its wealth of amenities, more than justify the starting price. If you're more interested in performance over luxury, the AMG CLS 53 may look disappointing compared to the significantly more expensive Porsche Panamera Turbo with its eight-cylinder engine capable of 550 horsepower.

Some of the CLS' options don't come cheap, however. The Burmester 3D High-End surround sound system is one of the most expensive extras at $5,400, while the Driver Assistance Package and air suspension come in at a steep $2,250 and $1,900, respectively.

In the end, though, you're unlikely to find many four-door sedans as fun or luxurious as the CLS-Class.

More Photos

See more 2019 Mercedes CLS Photos.